By Wendell Barnhouse | email@example.com
DALLAS - From a career-high 50 points to a career-high nine assists. No matter what the category, Brittney Griner continues to stack numbers like an accountant during tax season.
Top-seeded Baylor shared the ball like its All-American center. The Lady Bears had 29 assists on their 36 field goals as they rolled to an 80-47 victory over No. 8 seed Kansas State Saturday in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Championship.
Baylor (30-1) advances to the semifinals and will face No. 5 seed Oklahoma State at 1 p.m. Sunday. The Cowgirls advanced with a 59-54 victory over fourth-seeded Texas Tech in Saturday's second quarterfinal game.
"They tell me I'm a point guard at heart," said Griner, who was one assist from a triple double as he had 19 points and 13 rebounds. "I guess I kind of developed it over the years, just finding my teammates. They were doing a great job of cutting and letting me find them."
Griner had seven assists in the first half. On Monday, Griner made 21 of 28 shots on her way to setting the Big 12 single-game scoring record. Baylor needed Griner's production as Kansas State was within three points with 10 minutes to play thanks to its 3-point shooting.
Lady Bears coach Kim Mulkey made it clear she wasn't pleased with our her team defended the perimeter. There was considerable improvement shown.
"We were just kind of out there, no intensity," Baylor's Odyssey Sims said of the team's regular-season finale. "(Today) we were focused, came out, knew what we had to do. We had a game plan from the jump. I think everybody was more focused on what they needed to do."
In the first half, Baylor's side of the scoreboard in the American Airlines Center clicked like the odometer in a speeding car. 21-3. 30-6. 37-9. The Wildcats couldn't score and their missed shots became fast break layups for the Lady Bears. When Baylor ran its half-court offense, the result was point-blank shots. The Lady Bears had a 54-8 edge in points in the paint.
"It just took us forever to begin to feel even remotely comfortable offensively in that first half," said Kansas State coach Deb Patterson, who burned four of her five allotted timeouts by the 9:33 mark in an effort to stem the tide. "It was a game in which you wished you had 10 time-outs, if you could use five in each half, to break the tempo a little bit, especially early."
Kansas State senior Brittany Chambers closed out her career by scoring all 21 of her team-high points in the second half. She finished with 648 points this season, a school record for a senior, and 2,026 in her career. But Saturday she knew she and her teammates were facing a defending national champion intent on another trophy.
"Coach said in the locker room they were on a mission," Chambers said. "They turned it up a notch from when we played a week ago. They have a goal and they're going to get there. You can tell all their players are dialed in."